30 December 2011

Season’s Greetings Newsletters

Welcome back. Did you receive many Season’s Greetings newsletters this year from family and friends? I used to think they were too impersonal. But there I was, squeezing pretty much the same news into each of the way-too-many cards I was sending. As I licked the envelope or stamp, I would invariably remember at least one thing I forgot to mention or ask. To top it off, I enjoyed reading the newsletters I received.

Bottom line: I became a convert. Sort of.

Examples of news-stuffed cards, designed and
drawn by Rachel at (L-R) age 9, 11 or 12 and 13.
It Could Be Verse

Instead of a newsletter, I took it as a challenge to prepare a verse that covered the bases in as few short lines as possible. (If I was going to ask family and friends to suffer my writing, I’d try to get it over with quickly.) For almost 20 years, I’ve included a verse and used the card itself for any extras or questions.

This year’s greeting cards, designed by Rachel, with the
verse insert. (Vicki and I chose different cards this year.)
Verse Structure

From the beginning, I opted for a rhymed (more or less) verse with quatrains--you know, 4-line stanzas. For example, the first stanza of one of the earliest verses read:

A winter evening warmed
but not by the fire;
recording the year past
before thoughts expire…

Deep, huh? Usually, they began somewhat lighter.

Ho! Ho! Ho! Gets humdrum,
oh that wouldn’t irk us,
but we’re racing in rings
that belong to a circus.

With an introductory and a closing stanza, I generally need no more than six stanzas for the entire verse if I give each family member his or her own stanza.

For instance, when I was managing research projects for the government, I wrote:

Warren’s spending your tax dollars
with diligence and cunning;
he thinks about retiring,
but he’s having too much funning!

That same year, Vicki was working for a commercial satellite company that had a launch failure.

Vicki’s scrambling through her days:
Noah, work and keeping trim;
her company took a hit,
when its satellite couldn’t swim.

Sometimes I let family members share a stanza:

Noah learned the game of soccer,
He grew fins and gills in water;
Rachel’s working in news graphics
Being e’er the creative daughter.

And sometimes I offered part or all of a stanza to pets, in this case our first two furniture-destroying cats.

We acquired a second shredder
of Lassie’s feline persuasion;
“Rex” should have been “Regina,”
a case of bottom evasion.

Covering the Bases

Through our annual verse, I try to convey important happenings, whether happy…

Our big news is Rachel,
to graphics she’s headed,
while freelancing photos,
she plans to be wedded!

or sad…

Badly broken in a crash,
Warren’s mother’s pulling through;
Diagnosed with a tumor,
Vicki’s mother’s treatments grew.

or just a stay tuned…

Vicki worked and prayed,
raced without contusion;
alas, Warren didn't,
he's scheduled for back fusion.

Most years, there was nothing special to report.

Vicki’s doing just super,
well, maybe sort’a great;
dreams of farm, marathons
and time to meditate.

Warren’s work is hopping,
one challenge he faces:
Don’t laugh when management
can’t tie their shoelaces.

Tracking Years in Verse

The progression of verses is a family history, some of which we can feel nostalgic about. Here’s a sample of Noah’s stanzas that follow him from preschool to college:

Noah whooshed through every minute,
he’ll demolish tomorrow’s danger,
if only he could decide:
“Should I be Batman or a Power Ranger?”

Noah’s zipping through 2nd grade—
talking, he’s The Great Annoyer;
he swims and does the logical stuff,
we may be stuck with a lawyer.

Noah’s roller coaster ride
rose high in school and soccer,
but strep and broken bones
pushed his cart into a locker.

Noah’s tall as Vicki,
were size only sense;
guitar’s now ELECTRIC,
earning grades gets tense.

Noah's fine as a sophomore,
got through the concussion,
but a bat-killer-cat scratch
sure had us rushin'.

With rare exception, we sent cards produced by Rachel. One year, she even printed the verse on the card, which led to the following first stanza:

We’re printing this year,
our verse must be terser;
there’s so little time
the rhyme may get worser.

Wrap Up

I won’t load you down with the verse we sent this year, but I will end with its last stanza:

In all, a good year,
even topics we didn’t delve.
Best wishes, all,
for the year 20-12!

Happy New Year! Thanks for stopping by. I’ll write again in about a week.


Although you’ve probably mailed your holiday cards by now, you might be interested in the holiday, all-occasion and note cards and calendar Rachel is offering on her Etsy site:  www.etsy.com/shop/rachelphilipson

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